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IN this Merrymount Edition of Hans Andersen's 
story, the translation of H. W. Dulcken is fol- 
lowed. The illustrations are by Mary J. Newill of 

Cbe i^igJ)tmple 


IN CHINA, you must know, the Emperor is a 
Chinaman, and all whom he has about him are 
Chinamen too. It happened a good many years 
ago, but that's just why it's worth while to hear 
the story before it's forgotten! The Emperor's Palace 
was the most splendid in the World; it was made entire- 
ly of porcelain, very costly, but so delicate and brittle 
that one had to take care how one touched it. In the 
Garden were to be seen the most wonderful flowers, and 
to the costliest of them silver bells were tied, which 
sounded, so that nobody should pass by without noticing 
the flowers. Yes, every thing in the Emperor's Garden 
was admirably arranged. And it extended so far, that the 
Gardener himself did not know where the end was. If a 
man went on and on, he came into a glorious forest with 
high trees and deep lakes. The wood extended straight 
down to the sea, which was blue and deep; great vessels 
could sail beneath the branches of the trees, and in the 
trees lived a Nightingale, which sang so splendidly that 
even the poor Fisherman, who had many other things 
to do, stopped still and listened, when he had gone out 
at night to throw out his nets, and heard the Nightin- 
gale. "How beautiful that is!" he said; but he was 
obliged to attend to his property and thus forgot the 
bird. But when in the next night, the bird sang again 
and the Fisherman heard it, he exclaimed again, " How 
beautiful that is!" 


From all the countries of the World, Travellers came 
to the City of the Emperor and admired it, and the Pal- 
ace and the Garden, but when they heard the song of 
the Nightingale, they said: "That is the best of all!" 
And theTravellers toldofitwhen they came home; and 
the learned men wrote many books about the Town, 
the Palace, and the Garden. But they did not forget the 
Nightingale; that was placed highest of all; and those 
who were Poets wrote most magnificent poems about 
the Nightingale in the wood, by the deep lake. The 
books went through all the World; and a few of them 
once came to the Emperor. He sat in his golden chair, 
and read, and read; every moment he nodded his head, 
for it pleased him to peruse the masterly descriptions of 
the City, the Palace, and the Garden. " But the Nightin- 
gale is the best of all!" it stood written there. "What's 
that? exclaimed the Emperor." "I do not know the 
Nightingale at all! Is there such a bird in my Garden? 
I've never heard of that: to learn such a thing for the 
first time from books!" And hereupon he called his 
Cavalier. This Cavalier was so grand that if any one 
lower in rank than himself dared to speak to him, or to 
ask him any question, he answered nothing but P! and 
that meant nothing. 

" There is said to be a wonderful bird here called a 
Nightingale ! " said the Emperor. " They say it's the best 
thing in all my great Empire. Why have I never heard 
any thing about it? " " I have never heard him named," 
replied the Cavalier. " He has never been introduced 
at Court." " I command that he shall appear this even- 


ing, and sing before me," said the Emperor. "All the 
world knows what I possess, and I do not know it 
myself!""! have never heard him mentioned," said the 
Cavalier. " I will seek for him. I will find him." But 
where was he to be found? The Cavalier ran up and 
down all the staircases, through halls and passages, but 
no one among all those whom he met had heard talk 
of the Nightingale. And the Cavalier ran back to the 
Emperor, and said that it must be a fable invented by 
the writers of books. "Your Imperial Majesty cannot 
believe how much is written that is fidion, and some- 
thing that they call the black art." "But the book in 
which I read this," said the Emperor, "was sent to me 
by the High and Mighty Emperor of Japan, and there- 
fore it cannot be a falsehood. I will hear the Nightin- 
gale! It must be here this evening! It has my imperial 
favour! and if it does not come, all the Court shall be 
trampled upon after the Court has supped!" "Tsing- 
pe," said the Cavalier; and again he ran up and down all 
the staircases, and through all the halls and corridors; 
and half the Court ran with him, for the Courtiers did 
not like being trampled upon. 

Then there was a great inquiry after the wonderful 
Nightingale, which all the World knew, excepting the 
people at Court. At last they met with a poor little Girl 
in the kitchen, who said, "The Nightingale? I know 
it well; yes, it can sing gloriously. Every evening I get 
leave to carry my poor sick mother the scraps from the 
table. She lives down by the strand, and when I get back 
and am tired, and rest in the wood, then I hear the 

Nightingale sing! And then the water comes into my 
eyes, and it is just as if my mother kissed me." " Little 
Kitchen-Girl," said the Cavalier, "I will get you a place 
in the kitchen, with permission to see the Emperor 
dine, if you will lead us to the Nightingale, for it is an- 
nounced for this evening." 

So they all went out into the wood where the Night- 
ingale was accustomed to sing; half the Court went 
forth. When they were in the midst of their journey a 
cow began to low. " Oh ! " cried the court pages, " now 
we have it ! That shows a wonderful power in so small 
a creature! I have certainly heard it before." "No; those 
are cows lowing," said the little Kitchen-Girl. " We are 
a long way from the place yet." Now the frogs began to 
quack in the marsh. " Glorious!" said the Chinese 
Court Preacher. " Now I hear it: it sounds just like lit- 
tle church bells." "No; those are frogs," said the little 
Kitchen-Maid."But now I think we shall soon hear it." 
And then the Nightingale began to sing. 
" That is it ! " exclaimed the little Girl. " Listen, listen ! 
and yonder it sits," and she pointed to a little gray bird 
up in the boughs. "Is it possible?" cried the Cavalier. 
" I should never have thought it looked like that. How 
simple it looks! It must certainly have lost its colour 
at seeing such grand people around." "Little Night- 
ingale!" called the little Kitchen-Girl, quite loudly, 
"our gracious Emperor wishes you to sing before him." 
" With the greatest pleasure ! " replied the Nightingale, 
and began to sing most delightfully. " It soundsjust like 
glass bells! " said the Cavalier. " And look at the little 

€1)0 i^tgbtingale ^ it 

throat, how its working! It's wonderful that we should 
never have heard it before. That bird will be a great suc- 
cess at Court." " Shall I sing once more before the Em - 
peror?" asked the Nightingale, for it thought the Em- 
peror was present. "My excellent little Nightingale," 
said the Cavalier," I have great pleasure in inviting you 
to a Court festival this evening, when you shall charm 
his Imperial Majesty with your beautiful singing." 
" My song sounds best in the green wood ! " replied the 
Nightingale; still it came willingly when it heard what 
the Emperor wished. 

THE Palace was festively adorned. The walls 
and the flooring, which were of porcelain, 
gleamed in the rays of thousands of golden 
lamps. The most glorious flowers, which 
could ring clearly, had been placed in the passages. 
There was a running to and fro, and a through draught, 
and all the bells rang so loudly that one could not hear 
one's self speak. In the midst of the great hall, where 
the Emperor sat, a golden perch had been placed, on 
which the Nightingale was to sit. The whole Court 
was there, and the little Cook-Maid had got leave to 
stand behind the door, as she had now received the title 
of a real Court cook. All were in full dress, and all 
looked at the little gray bird, to which the Emperor 

And the Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears 

came into the Emperor's eyes. The tears ran down over 

his cheeks, and then the Nightingale sang still more 


€1)0 i^tgbtmple ^ ii 

sweetly; that went straight to the heart. The Emperor 
was so much pleased that he said the Nightingale 
should have his golden slipper to wear round its neck. 
But the Nightingale declined this with thanks, saying 
it had already received a sufficient reward. " I have seen 
tears in the Emperor's eyes ; that is the real treasure to 
me! An Emperor's tears have a peculiar power. I am 
rewarded enough. "And then it sang again with a sweet, 
glorious voice. 

"That's the most amiable coquetry I ever saw!" said 
the Ladies who stood round about, and then they took 
water in their mouths to gurgle when any one spoke 
to them. They thought they should be nightingales too. 
And the lackeys and chambermaids reported that they 
were satisfied too; and that was saying a good deal, 
for they are the most difficult to please. In short the 
Nightingale achieved a real success. It was now to re- 
main at Court, to have its own cage, with liberty to go 
out twice every day and once at night. Twelve servants 
were appointed when the Nightingale went out, each 
of whom had a silken string fastened to the bird's leg, 
and which they held very tight. There was really no 
pleasure in an excursion of that kind. The whole City 
spoke of the wonderful bird, and when two people met, 
one said nothing but Jl3Jigl)tin, and the other saidgalC; 
and then they sighed, and understood one another. 
Eleven pedlar's children were named after the bird, but 
not one of them could sing a note. 
One day the Emperor received a large parcel, on which 
was written "The Nightingale." " There we have a new 

€1)0 i^igJ)tingale ^ ii 

book about this celebrated bird," said the Emperor. But 
it was not a book, but a little work of art, contained in a 
box; an artificial nightingale, which was to be like a 
natural one, but was brilliantly ornamented with dia- 
monds, rubies, and sapphires. So soon as the artificial 
bird was wound up, he could sing one of the pieces that 
he really sang, and then his tail moved up and down, 
and shone with silver and gold. Round his neck hung 
a little ribbon, and on that was written, Cf)C (ZBlTipCtOt 

Of 31apan'0 niffDtingate is poor, comparcD to tbat of tbe 

Cmpcrot of Cbina. " That is capital ! " said they all, and 
he who had brought the artificial bird, immediately re- 
ceived the title, Imperial Head-Nightingale-Bringer. 
"Now they must sing together; what a duet that will 
be !" And so they had to sing together; but it did not go 
very well, for the real Nightingale sang in its own way, 
and the artificial bird sang waltzes. "That's not his fault," 
said the Playmaster, " he's quite perfect, and very much 
in my style." Now the artificial bird was to sing alone. 
He had just as much success as the real one, and then it 
was much handsomer to look at; it shone like bracelets 
and breastpins. Three-and-thirty times over did it sing 
the same piece, and yet it was not tired. The people 
would gladly have heard it again, but the Emperor said 
that the living Nightingale ought to sing something 
now. But where was it ? No one had noticed that it had 
flown away out of the open window, back to the green 

"But what is that!" said the Emperor. And all the 
courtiers abused the Nightingale, and declared that it 

€lje J^igbtingale ¥ it 

-was a very ungrateful creature. " We have the best bird 
after all," said they, and so the artificial bird had to sing 
again, and that was the thirty-fourth time that they 
listened to the same piece. For all that they did not 
know it quite by heart, for it was so very difficult, and 
the Playmaster praised the bird particularly; yes, he 
declared that it was better than a Nightingale, not only 
with regard to its plumage, and the many beautiful dia- 
monds, but inside as well. " For you see, ladies and gen- 
tlemen, and above all, your Imperial Majesty, with a 
real Nightingale one can never calculate what is com- 
ing, but in this artificial bird every thing is settled. One 
can explain it; one can open it and make people under- 
stand where the waltzes come from, how they go, and 
how one follows upon another." 

"Those are quite our own ideas," they all said, and the 
speaker received permission to show the bird to the 
people on the next Sunday, The people were to hear it 
sing too, the Emperor commanded, and they did hear 
it, and were as much pleased as if they had all got tipsy 
upon tea, for that's quite the Chinese fashion; and they 
all said "Oh! "and held up their forefingers and nod- 
ded. But the poor Fisherman, who had heard the real 
Nightingale, said, "It sounds pretty enough and the 
melodies resemble each other, but there's something 
wanting, and I know not what! "The real Nightin- 
gale was banished from the country and Empire. The 
artificial bird had its place on a silken cushion, close to 
the Emperor's bed; all the presents it had received, gold 
and precious stones, were ranged about; in title it had 

^be i^i5l)tmgale ^ if 

advanced to be the High Imperial After-Dinner-Sing- 
er, and in rank to number one on the left hand; for the 
Emperor considered that side the most important on 
which the heart is placed, and even in an Emperor the 
heart is on the left side; and the Playmaster v^rote a 
work of five-and-twenty volumes about the artificial 
bird; it was very learned and very long, full of the most 
difficult Chinese words; but yet all the people declared 
that they had read it, and understood it, for fear of be- 
ing considered stupid, and having their bodies trampled 
on. So a whole year went by. The Emperor, the Court, 
and all the other Chinese knew every little twitter in 
the artificial bird's song, by heart. But just for that rea- 
son it pleased them best; they could sing it with them- 
selves, and they did so. The street-boys sang "Tsi-tsi- 
tsi-glug-glug," and the Emperor himself sung it too. 
Yes, that was certainly flimous! 

But one evening, when the artificial bird was singing 
its best, and when the Emperor lay in bed listening to it, 
something inside the bird said "Whiz!" Something 
cracked. "Whirr !" All the wheels ran around, and 
then the music stopped. The Emperor immediately 
sprang out of bed, and caused his Body Physician to be 
called; but what could he do.? Then they sent for a 
Watchmaker, and after a good deal of talking and in- 
vestigation, the bird was put into something like order; 
but the Watchmaker said that the bird must be care- 
fully treated, for the barrels were worn, and it would be 
impossible to put new ones in, in such a manner that 
the music would go. There was a great lamentation; 


only once in a year was it permitted to let the bird sing, 
and that was almost too much. But then the Playmas- 
ter made a little speech, full of heavy words, and said 
this was just as good as before, and so of course it was 
as good as before. 

NOW five years had gone by, and a real grief 
came upon the whole Nation. The Chinese 
really were fond of their Emperor, and now 
he was ill, and could not, it was said, live 
much longer. Already a new Emperor had been cho- 
sen, and the people stood out in the street and asked the 
Cavalier how their old Emperor did. P! said he, and 
shook his head. 

Cold and pale lay the Emperor in his great gorgeous 
bed; the whole Court thought him dead, and each one 
ran to pay homage to the new ruler. The Chamberlains 
ran out to talk it over, and the Ladies' Maids had a great 
coffee-party. All about, in all the halls and passages, 
cloth had been laid down, so that no footstep could be 
heard, and therefore it was quiet there, quite quiet. But 
the Emperor was not dead yet; stiff and pale he lay on 
the gorgeous bed with the long velvet curtains and the 
heavy gold tassels; high up, a window stood open, and 
the moon shone in upon the Emperor and the artificial 

The poor Emperor could scarcely breathe; it was just 
as if something lay upon his chest; he opened his eyes, 
and then he saw that it was Death, who sat upon his 
chest, and had put on his golden crown, and held in one 

hand the Emperor's sword and in the other his beauti- 
ful banner. And all around, from among the folds of the 
splendid velvet curtains, strange heads peered forth; a 
few very ugly, the rest quite lovely and mild. These 
were all the Emperor's bad and good deeds, that stood 
before him now that Death sat upon his heart. " Do you 
remember this .? " whispered one to the other. " Do you 
remember that ? " and then they told him so much that 
the perspiration ran from his forehead. " I did not know 
that ! " said the Emperor. " Music ! music ! the great Chi- 
nese drum ! " he cried, " so that I need not hear all they 
say !" and they continued speaking, and Death nodded 
likeaChinaman toall they said. "Music! music! "cried 
the Emperor. "You little precious golden bird, sing, 
sing! I have given you gold and costly presents; I have 
even hung my golden slipper around your neck; sing, 
now, sing ! " But the bird stood still ; no one was there to 
wind him up, and he could not sing without that ; but 
Death continued to stare at the Emperor with his great 
hollow eyes, and it was quiet, fearfully quiet! 
Then there sounded from the window, suddenly, the 
most lovely song. It was the little live Nightingale, that 
sat outside on a spray. It had heard of the Emperor's sad 
plight and had come to sing to him of comfort and 
hope. And as it sung the spectres grew paler and paler; 
the blood ran quicker and more quickly through the 
Emperor's weak limbs, and even Death listened, and 
said, "Go on, little Nightingale, go on!" "But will 
you give me that splendid golden sword? Will you give 
me that rich banner .'' Will you give me the Emperor's 

crown? And Death gave up each of these treasures for a 
song. And the Nightingale sang on and on; and it sung 
of the quiet Churchyard where the white roses grow, 
where the elder-blossom smells sweet, and where the 
fresh grass is moistened by the tears of survivors. Then 
Death felt a longing to see his Garden, and floated out 
at the window in the form of a cold white mist. 
"Thanks, thanks!" said the Emperor. "You heavenly 
little bird! I know you well! I banished you from my 
Country and Empire, and yet you have charmed away 
the evil faces from my couch, and banished Death from 
my heart! How can I reward you?" 
" You have rewarded me," replied the Nightingale. " I 
have drawn tears from your eyes, when I sang the first 
time; I shall never forget that. These are the jewels that 
rejoice a singer's heart; but now sleep and grow fresh 
and strong again; I will sing you something." And it 
sang, and the Emperor fell into a sweet slumber. Ah! 
how mild and refreshing that sleep was. The sun shone 
upon him through the windows, when he awoke re- 
freshed and restored; not one of his servants had yet re- 
turned, for they all thought he was dead; only the 
Nightingale still sat beside him and sang. 
"You must always stay with me," said the Emperor. 
"You shall sing as you please; and I'll break the arti- 
ficial bird into a thousand pieces." "Not so," replied 
the Nightingale. " It did well so long as it could; keep 
it as you have done till now. I cannot build my nest in 
the Palace to dwell in it, but let me come when I feel 
the wish; then I will sit in the evening on the spray 

yonder by the window, and sing you something so that 
you may be glad and thoughtful at once. And I will sing 
of those who are happy, and of those who suffer. I will 
sing of good and of evil that remains hidden round about 
you. The little singing-bird flies far around, to the poor 
Fisherman, to the Peasant's roof, to every one who 
dwells far away from you and from your Court. I love 
your heart more than your crown, and yet the crown 
has an air of sandlity about it ; I come, I shall sing to 
you; but one thing you must promise me." "Every 
thing ! " said the Emperor ; and he stood there in his im- 
perial robes, which he had put on himself, and pressed 
the sword which was heavy with gold to his heart. 
"One thing I beg of you; tell no one that you have a 
little bird that tells you everything. Then it will go all 
the better." And the Nightingale flew away. The serv- 
ants came in to look to their dead Emperor — and — yes, 
there they stood, and the Emperor said, " Good-morn- 

Cbe €nti 





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